Best of CES PCs and Tablets: Lenovo Horizon Table PC

For suggesting new ways to use a computer, Lenovo's Horizon Table PC tops its class at the show.

Lenovo

Do we really think the Lenovo Horizon Table PC will launch a nation-sweeping trend of computer-based family game nights? No.

What the Horizon does do, though, is demonstrate that the PC industry still has plenty of interesting ideas.

You can read our full hands-on with the Horizon here. The gist of it though is that it's a 27-inch Windows 8 all-in-one touch-screen computer that you can lay down flat. It also has a battery. You would not use this giant computer as a walk-around-the-house device, but its portability does mean that you can set it up in a den, and then pull it out to use on a coffee table without dealing with the power cable.

Lenovo ships the Horizon with a software environment designed for multiuser input, and it's also shipping a library of apps -- over 3,000, says Lenovo -- as well as an assortment of physical input designed to work with those apps. Communal fun and games should theoretically ensue.

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Some of you might use the Horizon that way. But Lenovo demonstrated two other modes that suggest some more exciting possibilities.

One has the Horizon attached to a rolling stand that turns it into a kind of mobile interactivity station. Hospitals, schools, businesses, and other institutions could find such a setup amazingly useful.

The other mode puts the Horizon inside a specialized coffee table with a motorized cover that can keep the system hidden and protected when you're not using it, and then give you a fantastic multiuser gathering place when you are.

Lenovo is still deciding whether to offer the stand to consumers in the U.S. And for now the coffee table is just a concept (and will surely be expensive if it ever becomes a real product).

Asus has a compelling design on its hands in the Transformer AIO, effectively merging a standard all-in-one Windows PC with removable 18.4-inch screen that can become an Android tablet. That system has obvious appeal, but the 18.4-inch screen means some compromise in its all-in-one mode. Lenovo's IdeaPad 11 is also worthy, but it's really just an extension of the laptop/tablet mashups we already saw around the launch of Windows 8 this past fall.

Lenovo's Horizon Table PC received the award in the PCs and tablets category because it offers multiple new ways to use a computer, including a new way to integrate a PC into your home. It inspires conversation and some new thinking, and for that the Horizon deserves recognition.